You would think or would at least hope that after the uproar this summer at San Diego Comic Con over the "too few women in comics", DC would take some time to reflect and do something meaningful about it. Not just about the number of women they have working in their company, but also the number of women featured as prominent characters in their comics. But it is not just quantity we hope for. Quality is something we want desperately.
Apparently, this is too much to ask for. And to think...I was so excited for the arrival of Red Hood and the Outlaws.
I hope you've got comfort food with you because it is going to get depressing real fast.
Number One : Starfire. Apparently, she's been turned into someone who will sleep with anyone because it makes her feel free. The reason for this? She was a slave. DC Comics has dressed it up as "sexual liberation", when it in fact is quite the opposite. It is called catering to your male audience. Especially, when as you read the comic you get the sense that the writer (Scott Lobdell) is high fiving every man whose fantasy of Starfire he's just fulfilled.
Sexual liberation (also known as the sexual revolution) was a time where we broke from traditional views on sexuality. There was an increased acceptance of sex before marriage, homosexuality, bisexuality, contraception in its various forms and the legalization of abortion. It is about acceptance and not letting prejudice deter human beings from living their lives as they see fit. Mr. Lobdell has no concept of what the sexual revolution meant for women and the world at large because if he did, he would not be using it here as an excuse for his decisions in Starefire's characterization.
Here, we're supposed to think that Starfire is taking charge of her free life, which includes her sexuality. It does not come across as empowering or good. It made me so uncomfortable to see this because she is just another object in these comics for the male heroes to entertain themselves with despite her own strengths. She does not feel like their equal on this team. And the fact that Starfire seems to be suffering from some sort of memory loss concerns me. Is she of sound mind to make these decisions? None of the characters seem to think that maybe, something might be wrong with her. No one seems to care about Starfire's well being at all.
DC's response over Twitter?
Why does DC Comics never give anyone a straight answer? They "appreciate the dialogue on this topic" but don't contribute to it in an honest manner. And blaming the reader for picking up a T rated comic? It is not the implication of Starfire being sexually active that is disturbing. She is a powerful woman that can do what she wants. It is rather, the fact that Mr. Lobdell is trying to mask the male fantasy and call it sexual liberation that is scary. Starfire is not a person in this comic. She is a thing to be gazed at and used.
- "We've heard what's being said about Starfire today and we appreciate the dialogue on this topic."
- "We encourage people to pay attention to the ratings when picking out any books to read themselves or for their children."
Number Two: Starfire seems to lack a personality. Unless sleeping with people is apparently her only character trait? This is the new DC Universe, I expected things to be different but goodness.
I went into this with an open mind, and I can say in all honesty it doesn't feel like Starfire has a personality. She's been a slave and she's been betrayed so where is all that emotion that should come with having gone through that? Did she lose it at the intergalactic airport? Did the United States of America not allow her to pass through into their country with it in a carry-on bag?
Where is the fierce and passionate Tamaranian I used to know and adore? They took a character that was brimming with life and turned her into a one-dimensional object that sits in the background. Great.
I've been reading comments from various readers of the comic. Some of them, the more relaxed people who want everyone to calm down, say there's a reason for all of this and that answers will come along eventually down the line in the series. But how long must we wait and why did we have to wait to begin with?
Other comments from readers about this comic have been less than kind and I mean people are using some downright offensive language. It is not about the quality of the comic but actually in reference to Starfire. They are all comments made by men and they are laughing about her like she is a joke.
Will I be checking out the next issue? I won't be. This series was made for one audience only and I am not part of it.
Very well written article on the same subject matter but obviously more intelligently written: The Big Sexy Problem with Superheroines and Their 'Liberated Sexuality'
Interesting article: A 7-year-old girl responds to DC Comics’ sexed-up reboot of Starfire
And this is just for giggles: Someone's attempt at being Starfire Sexy.
(note: quote from Joseph Conrad.)